North Korea helped Syria's chemical weapons program, United Nations panel of experts finds

Syria has conducted chemical weapons attacks on civilians in Eastern Ghouta

Experts from the United Nations have found that North Korea has been providing Syria with supplies that could be used to make chemical weapons.

The report highlights the potential danger posed by any such trade between Syria and North Korea, which could allow Syria to maintain its chemical weapons, while also providing North Korea with cash for its nuclear and missile programmes.

But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons in attacks on civilians by the United Nations, including in a sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April past year. The council, and other entities, have suspected since 2011 that Pyongyang could be providing the supplies needed to bolster Syria's chemical weapons program.

The report details "substantial new evidence" about North Korea's dealings with Syria, dating back to 2008.

President Bashar al-Assad had explicitly subsequently said the incident was a "fabrication" used to justify a United States cruise missile strike on Syria's Shayrat airbase on 7 April.

The disclosures come amid revelations that Joseph Yun, the State Department's point man on North Korea, will leave his post Friday, a departure said to reflect widespread frustration among USA diplomats about the Trump administration's handling of Korea policy.

In 2002 George W Bush, as USA president, coined the phrase the axis of evil to label three countries, Iran, Iraq and North Korea, as sponsors of terrorism that also sought the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The report said that North Korean missile technicians also were seen working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities in Syria.

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The shipments allegedly contained acid-resistant tiles - which can be used for activities conducted at high temperatures - of a quantity that would cover the area of a large scale industrial project.

According to the BBC, it is believed the tiles could be used to set up facilities where chemical weapons are produced.

Activists have also accused the government of carrying out chlorine gas attacks, most recently this week.

The OPCW is investigating those attacks, Reuters news agency reports, citing diplomatic sources.

Russian Federation has violated its duty to guarantee the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons and prevent the Assad government from using banned poison gas, the United States charged on Wednesday.

Syria has denied allegations of possessing chemical weapons, stressing that the foreign-backed Takfiri terrorist groups operating in the country, including al-Nusra and Daesh, have obtained some stocks.

Syria's government had made an "unprecedented achievement by destroying all its chemical weapons in record time and in a manner that is irrevocable, although field conditions were extremely complex due to our war against terrorism", Aala said Wednesday.

The Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) - a Syrian government agency - is said to have paid the Kim Jong-un regime via a number of front companies, the newspaper reports.

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